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National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Performing Arts Schools, Theater

Mission: The founders of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts realized the need in 1975 for a quality program in the Washington area, which would allow students to train for careers in the performing arts.  Prior to the establishment of the Conservatory students wishing to train as actors were compelled to move to either New York or California to attend Conservatories in those states.  The performing arts in the Washington area have enjoyed enormous growth over the past ten years, increasing the demand for professionally trained actors.  The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts remains the only full-time, accredited acting program in the area.  Prospective students must demonstrate their readiness for training through a formal admissions process including both interview and audition.  Student Actors admitted to the Conservatory Program spend four consecutive semesters training twenty hours per week in voice, speech, acting, stage movement, stage combat, theatre history and rehearsal labs.  Students who have demonstrated professionalism and promise move on after the Conservatory Program to be members of Actor’s Repertory Theatre (ART) and spend an additional two semesters as members of the ensemble perfecting their craft in a professional company atmosphere, and appear in three full productions which are open to the public and invited members of the Washington theatre and performing arts community.

Results: We have graduated 700 students, and our actors are on stages and screens in LA, NY, DC, Chicago, and all over the country.

Target demographics: All ages and races who are looking to start a career or 2nd career as a professional actor.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 30 students

Programs: We offer two programs of study. A 4 semester Diploma in acting, and a 2 semester Advanced repertory company.

Community Stories

21 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of the 3 year program at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington, DC. I have a collection of certificates and diplomas, but my Certificate in Advanced Acting from NCDA is the one that means the most to me. The faculty, all working actors and directors , give their all to the students. I could not have had a more fruitful and enjoyable experience.

Cambria U.

Client Served

Rating: 5

NCDA is as wonderful a place as there can be to learn the craft of acting. It’s a family that welcomes you with open arms and encourages you to be open and unafraid on the stage or on camera. Teachers are friends who take pride in and are personally invested in the success and progress of their students.

Client Served

Rating: 5

From a student's perspective--great training from an excellent faculty. From a theater goer's perspective--an opportunity to enjoy innovative theater while supporting actors-in-training. From a local artist's perspective--a widely respected organization with opportunities to collaborate and network. Good people doing quality stuff for theater in DC.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

I graduated from the advanced acting program at NCDA four years ago. My experience as a student was positive, and I've also had a positive experience as an alum. The faculty continues to take an interest in the students even after they graduate, and that's been immensely valuable to me.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am a recent graduate of both the basic and advanced programs at NCDA. Their training was professional, comprehensive, tough, but nurturing at the same time. Since I've graduated, I've used their services for monologue development and other advice (all free of charge). I'm now in a professional production and am using every bit of the training I received at NCDA. It has enabled me to prepare for auditions as well as develop a character far beyond what I was able to do before I attended this program. Naturally, any program is only as good as what you're willing to put into it, but if you are serious about becoming an actor, this group will help you get there.

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

A nurturing environment and the freedom to take chances make the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts' actor training the most effective I have ever experienced. The work is challenging and incredibly gratifying. Opportunities to find employment and learn about the business of acting make this school truly unique. NCDA will provide the skills to anyone who is serious about become a working actor and continue to support you is so many ways even after graduation. My heartfelt thanks to the staff for the incredible hours they put in to make this school a success.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Folks at NCDA as they would like to be called treat you a family that will never cast you out. I feel I have joined a family that only continue to grow with an outstanding group of people

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. The administrators and faculty consistently showed that they were willing to go the extra mile to help students succeed. Their knowledge and expertise, as well as their commitment to excellent teaching, and small classes, all contributed to a terrific, hands-on, practical education that has readied me for an acting career.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is a great resource for education and support for the arts. It serves as a incubator for aspiring actors but also provides shows and resources for people to experience theatre and other art for free. It is amazing how much they are able to accomplish and do for people with such limited resources. They find instructors who not only are working professionals, but also usually are the top in their areas of expertise. The curriculum is varied and ever-evolving to adapt to the needs of the field. They help students during their time at school and beyond as they start their careers. Unlike most schools, the personalized attention is unparallelled. They truly want people to succeed and foster a competitive edge in their students to allow them to thrive in a highly demanding field.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

The school is a home away from home and the staff and students are my family members. One is treated with the utmost respect and cared for dearly. In this school, I have been privleaged to work with professionals who really know the craft and will to anything in their power to make sure one succeeds in the aggressive and competative world of acting. They will introduce you to their connects so that you stand a fighting chance in the world of acting. The most important advantage of this school is that they are accredited and for great reason too. The school is a powerful tool needed for this field and they will work with you very well because they understand everybody has a busy life. If I can do it, so can you.

2 gmichaelharris

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was a student at NCDA in 2007-08. When I arrived I had over a decade of stumbling around between community theater and low level professional. I wanted to make the jump to being a serious professional, but had little idea how to do it, and limited training. In the three and half years since graduation, I have earned my Equity card, performed in several nationally prominent theaters in D.C., become the Artistic and Executive Director of the Baltimore Improv Group, and returned to NCDA as a member of the faculty. For years my development as an artist was hampered by the need to pay the bills for my family. Now I am able to make a living and care for my loved ones using jobs that are all theater related. NCDA is the reason that my life has changed in this way, and I could not be more thankful.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I completed both of the programs at NCDA and it was one of the best things I have ever done. I learned about not only the craft of acting, but the business as well and I believe that I now have the tools to succeed. The people at NCDA are some of the most dedicated I have ever met and I would never have learned this much anywhere else.

1 Joshua D.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts gave me everything I need to pursue an acting career. At the Conservatory, I developed and practiced skills and techniques, learned about the business of acting and how to market myself, all from an extremely qualified faculty that genuinely cared about me and my education. The Conservatory provides an incredibly welcoming atmosphere and support network that continues beyond graduation. The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts has made my dream of an acting career possible.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Great training! Far exceeded expectations and the amount and information taught truly puts us ahead of a four year degree program in theatre. Unbelievable amount of time saved. Unbelievable amount of learning gained. Greatest acting secret in DC!

1 Jill N.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was enrolled in the Conservatory during 2007-2008. I found it to be a professionally run, intensive, useful program that hit on all the fundamentals needed to pursue a career in acting. The audition and business classes were particularly helpful and something that was neglected at the university where I previously studied. The staff and faculty were very helpful and available, and have remained so for me since graduating. It is very much a family atmosphere, with wonderfully small classes and lots of individual attention. The camaraderie, bonding, and network during and after my time there have been really important in launching my post-Conservatory acting career.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I knew when I finished an undergraduate degree in English Lit, that I wanted to pursue a career as an actor. After several years of bouncing around between community and lower level professional theater, I realized I needed more training. Looking at the cost of most Conservatory training (often between 20&30K/year), serious training did not seem financially viable. The other option was to take financially affordable classes that would run once or twice a week, and would take several years to complete anything like a comprehensive curriculum. Neither option appealed.
At a Actors Expo in VA, I met some students from NCDA, and talked about their experiences. The school was a perfect balance of time commitment (16-18 hours of class a week; four 15 week semesters completed in 17 months) and cost. The four semesters I attended at NCDA cost about what a single semester at a Performing MFA Conservatory program would cost.
The program is completely focused on preparing performers for the professional world. In my two and half years since leaving NCDA, I have performed at the Kennedy Center, Signature Theater (winner 2009 Regional Tony), & Studio Theater. I have taken over as Executive/Artistic Director of the Baltimore Improv Group, and I'm starting rehearsals to play Hamlet.
I would never have received these opportunities had it not been for the skills I learned and support I received while at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.
There are schools with bigger names, bigger reps, and bigger price tags; but if you want to be a professional actor, this is the place for you.

2

Client Served

Rating: 4

My name is Tanera Hutz and I graduated from NCDA'S ART program in 2006. I have had many wonderful opportunities to perform in Washington, DC's professional theatre community since then. These opportunities were made possible by the education I received at this school. I now live in Seattle, Washington where there is a very lively theatre scene....even though I'm starting over, sort of speak, I have the confidence to jump right on in do to my experience as a professional actor and the training I recieved at NCDA....check this place out and let your adventure begin......

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Finding the National Conservatory Of Dramatic Arts was an important turning point in my life. I started acting as a child but stopped at a certain point due to various life events. In 2001, I took a month long course at RADA in London. The course gave me a glimse at what going to a full time conservatory might be like. The first time I wandered into the conservatory, it had a very good feel - it felt strangely like him. When I went for an interview, I met Nan Ficca. Talking to Nan made me think that my dream might be possible for the first time in years. My ears pricked up when she said that NCDA was modeled after conservatories in Europe. A few years earlier, I had tried to renew my love of acting by enrolling in a summer course at the The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. In that month, I experienced a comprehensive approach that included working on multiple disciplines - such acting, voice, movement, text work etc. on a daily basis. This seemed to me a much more time efficient way to study acting than taking a once a week class. When I was in London, I realized that a conservatory was the right learning environment for me - I just didn't know there was one right there in my own home town! I could write pages and pages about the hundred of little moments at the conservatory when I broke to a new understanding, did something new, or accomplished something that I did not think I could. What really sets The Conservatory apart from other acting institutions that I have experienced is that it gave me the safety net to grow. No one outside of students and faculty views student projects until fourth semester...I think this is so key because it allows students to "try and fail,". Another thing that sets this school apart of say, a college acting program is the amount that you actually act!!! The conservatory won't force you to take tech classes. The only non-acting stuff that is required are classes about business and auditions that will actually help you get a job - as an ACTOR! In addition to classes - if you put in the work, you will get meaty roles - over and over, so that you can grow from them. Another great thing about the conservatory is its ART program. In this program, students are cast and directed by high caliber professional directors. This really takes students to the next level, not only artistically, but also in terms of how to conduct themselves in a professional theatre environment with a director and stage manager. After graduating from the diploma and advanced programs at The National Conservatory, I have been paid as an actor! I worked at The International Spy Museum's "Operation Spy". I have narrated stories to kids and helped them act them out. I even got into a fight with a very mean puppet in one women show during the 2008 Fringe festival. I would not have gotten any of these and other gigs without my conservatory training. (And if I had, I wouldn't have known what I was doing!) Sadly, I have left Washington to be near family in Chicago. Since moving here, I have been invited to join the acting ensemble of "Evergreen Theatre Ensemble", and performed with them during the past year. I will never forget my experience at the Conservatory - it truly was a Godsend for me. I wish I could do it again - oh, wait - I can! The Conservatory lets alumni audit classes for free, forever. (As if I wasn't home sick already...sigh) I am so thankful to my acting home and family there. I will cherish it as long as I live. The End. Jennifer Mayberry, Chicago, IL ...I cannot say enough that for me NCDA was literally a Godsend...I had lost my dream for years...briefly rekindling it in London, and then finding I could pursue it in the town I grew up in...I don't know what would have become of me if I had not found it. Trying to be

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Being a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts is something that I am truly proud of. With everything from basics of acting to business of acting, I have a solid foundation to build upon for the rest of my life!

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was student in both the certificate program and the advanced program. What a great learning experience, followed by a supportive Alumni experience.

10

Client Served

Rating: 5

This accredited acting conservatory (the only one in the Washington Metropolitan area) has a success rate of over 90% in placing their student actors in professional acting jobs within their 1st year of graduating!!!